How to Launch a Successful Online Community: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Alok Chowdhury

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It’s no secret that the way people buy has fundamentally changed over the years.

These days, people are conducting their own research, reading product reviews, and seeking out recommendations before making a decision, and online communities are beginning to play a role in this process.

As of 2018, according to the B2B Buyers Survey Report, 45% of business buyers spent more time and resources researching purchases than they did the previous year. So, the more platforms you can launch your brand on, the more you can strengthen your buyers’ research.

B2B communities like

These forums provide people with an opportunity to learn from existing customers experiences and offer space for community feedback that can be used to bring trust and authenticity into an otherwise stale procedure.

If you’re launching a new community or refreshing an existing one, taking time to prepare a plan is crucial for ensuring success. The best way to start is to determine why you are building the community to begin with. Reasons may range from you are trying to support your existing business or marketing efforts to wanting to counteract negative reviews and identify passionate fans.

Either way, there are two questions you should consider when creating an online community:

  • Why should I engage with my customers online?
  • What’s the best platform to do it with?

To walk you through the process of setting up an online community in more detail, keep reading.

Free vs. Owned Community Forums: What’s the Right Move?

Although social networks and community platforms seem interchangeable, there actually is a clear distinction.

Social media, in general, is composed of users who have nothing in common (only using the platform because their friends are on it). Communities, however, revolve around a specific issue, and it’s up to you to take the social network and engage certain users on that platform to form a community that’s focused on your industry.

With this in mind, there are two types of communities you can launch: free or owned. Here’s the difference:

Free Community Platforms

There are “free” platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which offer community-like features, but using them has its pros and cons.

One key pro is that it’s free for users and comes with a built-in audience. In other words, you can stand up an account, create content, and publish it to your followers for free, as long as you do the leg work to find out who on this platform you want to reach

The con, on the other hand, is that you don’t truly “own” your community and are therefore beholden to the decisions these companies make for how the platform serves your content to others. Right when you’ve mastered the platform your community lives on, the content algorithm changes, and you’re forced to pivot your content strategy to retain your users’ attention. It’s been known to happen.

Here’s a brief list of free platforms to consider, if you decide to launch a community in …read more

Read more here:: hubspot

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